13 Sunscreen, Antiperspirant, Personal Care – Why Choosing Natural Creates So Much Impact with The Green Beaver Company’s Alain Ménard
In today’s episode, we chat with Alain Menard from The Green Beaver Company. We explore why Alain, a microbiologist, and his wife Karen, a biochemist, left their careers in the pharmaceutical and pesticide industries after deciding to start a family and being sidelined by a surprising diagnosis. We do a deep dive into natural and conventional sunscreens, antiperspirants and toothpaste, learn what the differences are, learn why there have been recalls and what the health impacts of our choices may be. And discover why after 20 years of revolutionizing the industry and engaging with his customers, Alain feels so hopeful for our future.
If you want to Learn more about Alain and his Certified Organic & Cruelty-free Personal Care Products visit https://greenbeaver.com. Looking to try Alain’s revolutionary antiperspirant or toothpaste that uses the benefits of science? You can find both in retailers across Canada. You can follow along with Alain on his mission to inspire a natural way of life in a more sustainable world on Facebook or Instagram
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About the Host
I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother. I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.
You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city. I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.
Jennifer Myers Chua: If you’re a user of antiperspirants take a look and see if yours has a warning label. If you bought it at the drug store, chances are it has one. With a warning about kidney disease. We’ll go into why that’s there in a bit, we’ll also go into antiperspirants and aluminum. This is something you might’ve heard of. And there has been studies showing aluminum in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. It’s been linked to cancer, and it’s a reason that a lot of people have switched their deodorants. Natural deodorants are kind of the gateway into natural personal care.
And a lot of us know there may be things in our household products that we rather avoid. But natural products do not always work like we expect them to. And Alain and his team at The Green Beaver Company have been formulating products backed by a tremendous amount of scientific research. So while natural products are often unregulated, The Green Beaver Company is backed by science, certified with ECOCERT and working closely with health Canada to create new and truly innovative products that work as good as conventional without causing harm.
And over the last 20 years, Alain has seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior. People are asking questions. They are looking for natural alternatives and Alain has been a huge part of this shift. He’s incredibly influential. Many of green Beaver’s products were first to market in their category, and ever advocates, the green beaver company has been fighting for transparency and regulation in the industry and strives to use the cleanest ingredients sourced locally.
Alain lives in Hawkesbury, Ontario near the Quebec, Ontario border. And its where nearly 20 years ago that he started the green beaver company with his wife karen. Before green beaver, Alain was a microbiologist. Karen was a biochemist working in pesticides. Alain had gotten into microbiology because of the science of food. Making cheese, beer, that kind of stuff. And afterwards he took this education into pharmaceuticals, working with antibiotics. He was spending his days in hospitals, meeting with doctors and pharmacists telling him about new antibiotic products, how they worked, what the effectiveness was. And Karen was also a medical liaison working with the latest studies presenting data to healthcare professionals. And after a while, things began to change because they began to change. They both felt compelled to do something else.
See, they had begun to talk about starting a family, trying to decide if they were ready, if it was the right time, trying to figure out where they could put a nursery. But once Karen really started considering having a child, she began to look into the chemicals they were using in their home because she was picturing her child crawling across a floor washed with conventional cleaners and putting their baby hands in their mouth. Was she okay with that? With what she knew about chemicals? So Alain and Karen began to take a hard look at everything within their home cleaning products, personal care. And it was overwhelming.
Alain Ménard : Everything is like artificial fragrance and chemical, this for washing clothes, dish washing soap. You name it, then you start getting into, well, what exactly is in my shampoo or my antiperspirant, then it gets to be like, Yeah, we were going a little bit bonkers with this, and of course. with both of our science background, I mean, and with a bit of more research. We kind of figured out what all these products had in him and this, and then you start thinking, this is our nest we live here, we breathe here, we eat here, you’re, you’re breathing the air. You’re like, how Can it be every week importing chemicals from the outside to bring in to the inside and to spray it where I’m going to breathe, eat, sleep, then it’s like, yeah, why do we do that? How did we get here? How did society did we get to do that? How did we get to like, figure out, we can, it increased our yield of a crop by 30% by putting chemicals on it. The insecticides. Yeah. There’ll be some left. We’ll be eating a little, bit of it, but it’s not the end of the world. We’ll get, be getting 30% more yield. Oh my God. And I feel like, If you look back 19 years ago when it was when we first introduced our product, the world has changed. There’s a lot more knowledge about everything that’s going on about, pollution and climate change and everything.
Jennifer Myers Chua: Karen was really grappling with her identity as a biochemist. She was working in pesticides during the day. And then purging her home of chemicals on nights and weekends. It was like leading a double life and it was beginning to eat at her, so much so, she couldn’t do it anymore and she quit.
And by that time already, a portion of the kitchen counter was covered in mixers and beakers and equipment. And the two began to dabble in making products as a hobby. Something for Karen to focus on now that she was unemployed. An avid cook. She loved it. Cause making face cream is similar to making mayonnaise, Alain points out, they are both emulsions. And back in those days, there were not very many natural products available. The health food stores had a small selection, but natural products were much more difficult to find. So Alain began to experiment too thinking he’d use his expertise to help formulate products on evenings and weekends. And see where this leads to, but he had no plans on quitting his job.
Alain Ménard : And by that time, oh boy, I was changed. It was there wasn’t any more chemicals in the house and making it a lot of our own stuff and went organic. And as much as we could, it’s be honest, it’s because in those days it wasn’t as much available as today. And yeah, we got into gardening. I remember that had our first garden around that time.
Jennifer Myers Chua: But soon afterwards, Alain got a call. That changed everything.
Alain Ménard : So then I got a call from my sister. My oldest nephew, Miguel was three years old and the twin boys a year and a half. So three boys under the age of. Equates to very busy, tired. And anyway, she was very upset. Then she sadly announced to me that she had just been diagnosed with very advanced breast cancer. And this is at 32 years old, i mean come on. And I remember having discussions with Karen. Yeah. All these chemicals it starts, from within our house, which we have control of. We’re self polluting ourselves. People think of pollution. They think of going outside, smelling smog and things like that. But what about your own pollution that you create in the house with all these like air fresheners and things like that? Because with my sister, we did find out it wasn’t hereditary.. So basically something clicked, something got cells growing and it’s like, Well, I don’t believe it’s like maybe one ingredient that’s probably being exposed to multiple chemicals. Some of it, you breathe through the air, some of it you’re eating, whatever pesticide residue or, or worse, it’s like, all this artificial flavoring. Can we have real food anymore? That was our synthetic chemicals. Like everything else in these chemicals, something always comes out later, and then it’s what you read and we don’t have all the same genetics and it will affect us more than others and at different concentrations and things like that.
Roughly a week after that I decided to quit. And by that time we had some products formulated we were using and I said, let’s see. You know what, let’s come out with these products and we’ll use those as a means to educate people that there are alternatives that is healthier for you, your family. And and at that time we didn’t think about the environment as much. It was mostly just for the people’s health. So really green beaver was not born with a business plan. Actually. I only wrote a business plan 15 years after we launched our first products, it was really born on a mission. We actually said, okay, let’s make these products, we’ll sell this products. You got to make enough to make a living because we only had so much savings and we had quit our pretty good jobs and all that stuff. So, as long as we can do that, we’ll use the products as a means to communicate our mission to help people live more natural, healthier lives. And later on, we added and in a sustainable world.
Jennifer Myers Chua: You had this background in science, you had this family, you were starting, and you had this complicated diagnosis with your sister. And now you had this idea for a product basically for a brand. How did you move this forward into creating an actual business?
Alain Ménard : There was a reason and definitely, but still, it was pretty bold starting out a family, good careers, I mean, wow. What were we thinking? I guess we truly believed it obviously. We were going to a health food store, went on, the internet started looking at it. They sell natural products. So maybe if we came out with some products and we had bought some natural, natural, personal care from there. We’re coming mostly from the states. No, it wasn’t that many there, but mostly from the states, Canadians were not even heard of.
And we said, Okay, well maybe we can start making our products and then we can go and deliver them to the stores and then they could sell their products for us. Most of the products are already there and there were a few, but were mostly coming from the state. And then well basically, you empty your basement, then you put up some shelves. Right. And we were lucky because I did have a, the help of my parents. My dad would come and help me label the order and sticks and things like that, watching hockey game or during the day with me in a basement with a wood stove going in that day and, whatever. And Coco came around and our son Joshua and yeah, so my mom would help out with with cocoa because Karen was busy, also working. Our first orders, I mean, it was just like one carton box, it would maybe five, six product inner boxes and that was it little by little. And then consumer shows, we did so many consumer shows.
I’ll never forget. The first one I told Karen, we had a van and I said, okay, we loaded up the van. I mean, there wasn’t a square inch left in that van. I said, we have to bring lots of products because this is going to be a hit. If I could have hooked up a trailer to the van, I would have hooked it up. And I would have filled that one too. There was a Toronto woman’s show. I said, Karen, they said, there’s going to be 30 000 women. We’re going to tell him we have a deodorant without aluminum, I mean, they’re going to line up and all natural and toothpaste with real flavors for their kids? I said, Karen, it’s going to be crazy. It was a tree day show. Would I started Friday afternoon type thing. And I said I don’t think we’ll have enough stuff to last till Saturday. End of day, Saturday. But that’s all we could bring. I’m like, oh, what a disaster? So I’m there. And I have my new products and I’m thinking, man, they’re going to jump all over this. And all I saw is I saw a bunch of deers all weekend, like a deer when it looks into headlights. And when I was telling him they would just look at me and I could tell, like, they’re not getting it. They don’t get it. So that was a long trade show. Hardly sold anything.
And all the other, like booths were like major, like big cosmetic companies. And we had a little wood table and. I kind of like very disappointed. And then I was thinking and thinking I couldn’t stop, and I figure it out. And I said, I remember saying to Karen, you know what? I think I know why. You know when we say this is toothpaste with natural flavors and they look at you like what? So like why, I said, Karen, this is what’s going on in the world. Artificial flavors have become the norm. Natural flavors, almost a weird thing. Cause they’re so used to the artificial. I said, I don’t know how we got here. I guess these big companies with all their marketing and whatever. Right. They pushed it at us. We, they liked it and they can’t get off it. You know what I mean? They’ll almost think of natural is like, is like weird. And is it safe? So I said, we’re going to have to start way back a couple steps back in the education process because who, I didn’t think it was that far back.
Jennifer Myers Chua: In the beginning, the company was really founded on helping people make healthier decisions for their health and then sustainability and all that piece came later. I was wondering, do you have a moment that really stands out in your mind when sustainability became important to you?
Alain Ménard : triclosan. That got me really thinking. It’s a chemical antibacterial agent and it’s found like, antibacterial soaps, it was even in toothpaste. And then a study, started coming out, showing that the triclosan, they could find it in the sewage. Right. And then they could find it. In the Ottawa river and lake Ontario, Pacific ocean, near Vancouver. Why? Well, first of all, it’s very persistent. It’s not doesn’t biodegrade. Very easily. Right? So they could see that, Hey, this stuff is like everywhere. And the study came out and then a few after came out that validated that first study that showed that it was actually like having an effect on the aquatic animals, so it was killing frogs and all kinds of nasty stuff. Cause they could find triclosan in them and things like that. So then you start thinking and not many people think about it. I didn’t before that, I don’t think so. If you were to just think . Tomorrow, Montreal Toronto, Vancouver, all the big, big cities across Canada, right? How many litres of shampoos and shower gels and conditioners and laundry detergent, dish washing detergent, that’s going to go through the system and then end up in our river rivers and lakes. Day after day. It’s horrible. And then the worst thing is it makes me think of like, when they use pesticides on food that we eat, you throw it out in the water and then, you know What? You bring it back in to drink. You’re polluting your water source.
Does that you bring aliens here? I think are aliens, yeah. Well maybe I’m superior intelligence than us. They would look at us and say, those are the most stupidest animals I’ve ever seen. They’re contaminating their food source and their water source. An, the land that they need to grow the food source. Like they’re really not too intelligent. Think about it. What I exactly just cause we always did it that way. And so far it doesn’t mean we can change,
so triclosan. Yeah, that was the first one. FDA actually, banned it in the states. There’s no more triclosan in products in the states. If you come to Canada, health, Canada reduced the amount that is allowed in products, but they didn’t actually ban it. So that was horrible.
Jennifer Myers Chua: You commented earlier that this is becoming more top of mind for a lot of people. I’m curious how you did that because you a pioneer in this space, you really are. I mean, I was using your shampoo in 2006 or something like this. You are a person that really significantly impacted how Canadians feel about these products. I would love to know what you did to really create change here. Like I’m assuming your background in science maybe gave you a unique advantage in communication, but how did you break through to meeting consumers where there only beginning to understand that natural is important?
Alain Ménard : We were doing mostly like grassroots stuff. Right. So our impact would have been kind of limited, but with other companies getting on board there are groups like the environmental defense, and bunch of scientists there that really started going after the chemicals and showing everybody to prove, it’s when the scientists got more together, it used to be, the scientists would be like on the other side, proving that the chemicals were safe, those are the people that have the knowledge they can see through it. And then there started to be a shift. So some of those minds went into places like environmental defense or whatnot, and started working for the good side, the natural side. I see it as a good site, and I think that was probably where it started. Started getting a little bit traction and these were credible people. Talking about real studies, real results, real research. And then I hate to say it, but I think that this whole, like climate change actually accelerated it because by showing people that, our CO2 emissions can actually affect the weather, I remember way at the beginning, a lot of people are skeptical about all of that. Even there were scientists saying they were saying, no, it’s not true. It took a long time, cause the onus usually it’s always in science, it’s always a, the proof that it’s not rather than prove that it does, it’s a safer way of doing it, I guess, but it takes more time. You know what also, now that I think back over the years, it’s when you had like all of a sudden, a product recall, it’s like all of a sudden you have the agencies they’re batting triclosan, not to be used ever on the American soil, because they realized that all this stuff in these soaps and things like that is damaging to the environment. If health Canada ban some ingredient ingredients as well. Before the companies would say, well, no, it is safe. This chemical is safe because it’s approved by health Canada. They approved it on whatever data they had at that time. Who presented the data who prepared the data, a little bit of a conflict of interest there. Yeah.
And then you had things like, finally it was proven that the baby powder containing Talc cause cancers, ovarian cancers, and that company’s being sued for it right now, proven in court that they were guilty, that they had some knowledge of it. That’s horrible. It was just like recently, two weeks ago, all of a sudden you have this major, big brand company that recalling all of their sunscreen because they, they figured out that it contains benzene, which is cancer causing. And this is happening as we speak right now, these products are being pulled off the shelves. And it’s all of this stuff coming out.
And then people say, well, wait a minute, you say it’s safe, your research has shown that it’s safe. Yeah. But you should see the protocols, it’s like pesticides, they have to be tested obviously, when, when they’re tested, they’re tested and they don’t go out and test it and plots outside when it’s like super windy, it’s very, very calm. And the farmers are supposed to only apply like pesticide when it’s not windy, but you know, when you only have so many days to spread and you have so many acres, you’re in a hurry.
I remember once jogging. I could Tastes like something metal and like metal in your mouth. And I looked over and they were spraying and it was getting the wind. I was breathing in all of the the pesticides, was like, my God, they don’t, they’re not being used like you’re supposed to be used for whatever reason, not accusing people, but it’s just the way it is.
Jennifer Myers Chua: I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about these recalls because on hipmommies Instagram, for example, we share information with our followers, a lot about these recalls, and there’s been a lot of conversation about the sunscreen recall, and I’ve heard so many different opinions about this, but we always advocate for these natural mineral based sunscreens regardless. So I was wondering since your sunscreen is one of the best sellers in Canada, especially for children and it is mineral based. Can you explain a little bit more about what that means and the safety around sunscreen in terms of health and environment?
Alain Ménard : Conventional sunscreen, the ones made with the chemicals have been having a hard time. If you look back in the last four or five years right now, starting with studies coming out that showed that the active ingredients in sunscreen actually do cross the skin. That’s the active chemicals, right? And these are simple studies and they’ve been done and redone and redone. It’s proven every time, after a single use of these chemical sunscreens, studies have shown that they found them in urine and blood and breast milk. They get right through your, your skin and get right into your system and it just goes everywhere. Again, there were saying, Yeah yeah but it’s a such a small amount that safe that, and I hate that answer.
So, they were getting a bad rap because they were scared, but they use their PR to convince the people, reassure people that, but it’s okay. It’s still safe. And then a couple years ago there was a big recall. And one of the big brands, kid’s skins were all like burning and nothing to do with the active ingredient on that one. Because of artificial fragrance. They had started using a new artificial fragrance and it just burned kids skin and you can still find that information on CBC actually.
And then two years ago, this was a shocker. I knew I’ve seen studies that but it was, I had a hard time believing it, but more research was done and actually it was proven, they were finding out small, small amount of chemical sunscreen on people. When they go swimming in the coral reef, where people were going to swim, the coral reefs were dying and they made their link. They found the chemical from the sunscreen, very small amount, but in the coral. They did studies and they showed that yeah, it could kill it. So actually Hawaii, the state of Hawaii, who depend a lot on tourism and they like to have their coral cause that attracts people too, have banned the use of chemical sunscreen. They only allow the use of mineral sunscreen. Isn’t that unbelievable to say that they’ve banned it, and well, two weeks ago the benzene issue it’s like, okay, enough is enough. People, there are great natural mineral sunscreens out there, safe for you, effective. They go through the same testing as they do for the efficacy as the chemical ones, and it’s all submitted to health Canada. They have to review it. Isn’t there enough bad stuff known about chemical sunscreen?
Jennifer Myers Chua: If you haven’t made that switch yet, if you haven’t tried mineral sunscreen, what exactly is the difference?
Alain Ménard : It’s the active ingredients. So, basically instead of using the avobenzone and all those type of chemicals that, that act as an active ingredient in the sunscreen, you’re basically using a mineral powder. So it’s basically a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. It’s also an active ingredient, but it’s also for us blocking the rays, but it’s also a counter irritant that takes away a skin rash. So basically the way that these minerals work is basically they block it. The rays just bounce off them. It’s pretty simple.
Jennifer Myers Chua: So in your time making sunscreen, for example, you’ve noticed all of these issues with conventional sunscreens and some of the chemicals that are getting through testing and making it onto store shelves. When did you realize that conventional baby care products may be less than ideal? What’s going on in conventional baby products that we need to be aware of?
Alain Ménard : If you look at baby products and baby shampoo or an adult shampoo, I mean, they’re all made at the same components. You need a surfactant, which is a soap component. You need texturizer, so it doesn’t come out so liquidity that comes out of the bottle too quick. You need a preservative. There is a pediatrician in the states that did a really simple study just to prove one thing. She knew that, for example, the lavender go to bed, baby lotion or whatever, soothing and everything, but you know what, the majority of the conventional products that say it’s lavender do not contain lavender. Right? I don’t know why they’re allowed to say lavender. It should say lavender scent. And she knew that. So basically all these products contain artificial fragrances, and she knew that an artificial fragrance is not one ingredient. On average, it’s 14 different chemicals put together. And because it’s propriety information companies do not have to reveal what is in that fragrance. That just that fact scares me cause that’s carte blanche to put whatever you want. You just have to basically sign an affidavit that it’s safe for the government. But I think that’s not enough personally. But one of the chemicals that the, that the majority of these artificial fragrance contain is called phthalates. It’s kind of a funny word. It’s even harder to pronounce. They actually prolong this duration of a scent, intensifies it and prolong.
I saw an ad on TV, not too long ago. Where there one of these air fresheners, it’s like, eh, it’s good for like seven daysand I thought. Oh my God, you’re going to put that in their house. And it’s going to stick around for seven days. So anyways, that’s what these phthalates do. And so like, for example, if you were to put a lavender essential oil on your t-shirt and a lavender artificial fragrance with phthalates in it and another t-shirt put them away and your laundry room, whatever, for a week, you bring both out. I can guarantee you the lavender t-shirt won’t smell like lavender anymore, there are lavender artificial fragrance, still will. Those are the phthalates at work. There’s many different types of phthalates it’s a class of chemicals and this pediatrician knew that phthalates were suspected endocrine disruptors.
Some of it we’ll call them Zino estrogen or whatever. What it is is that basically it’s a chemical that gets into your system. When people say what mean, I just putting out, I’m just putting this stuff on my skin. I’m not eating it. And I know a lot of the chemicals, not all, but a lot of the chemicals in these products actually get through your skin and they don’t just sit there underneath your skin forever. No, they get picked up in your blood system. And then here we go. Yeah. let’s go for a ride. We’ll go through this organ we’ll go through this organ. We’ll go to the brain. We’ll go through the liver. The liver that’s when a lot of times it’s it, it gets broken down. And unfortunately some of these chemicals they’re kind of shaped, like some of our hormones, there is like a key and they fit only in certain area. On receptors cell receptors So you have a chemical that resembles a hormone that you have, and it creates a hormonal imbalance. So all of a sudden, there’s too many of these hormones clicking all of these receptors at the same time. And that’s when it can cause serious illness, leading up to cancer.
Hormones are very, very powerful, small amount difference can change a body like you wouldn’t believe. Right? So they’re called Zino estrogen. And so she was concerned. She was concerned that she knew that parents would the, wash your baby every day with these artificial fragrance to put some lotions on. And she was concerned. So it was really pretty simple study. When you think about it, she collected urine from 268 babies across the country in the states because she wanted regional representation and all that stuff. So you take the urine and you just send it out to an analytical lab and you, you just see phthalates and then the baby’s urine. And babies don’t forget they are growing hormones, you have growing organs, even more susceptible to a hormonal imbalance. And unfortunately what they found was that a hundred percent of the babies tested, had phthalates in their urine. Hundred percent. I mean, that’s horrible. We’re poisoning our children.
And then you’re wondering, little Johnny can’t concentrate. Yeah. I know, but he’s indirectly being drugged with all these chemical hormones and the parents don’t even know they’re doing it. Can’t concentrate. Oh. And then yeah, of course. Okay. Well, let’s, let’s give him some pills, and there’s no end to it. I’m not advocating that people should, just stay away from medication. We have an illness, it’s an illness. It’s different, but what led to the illness? That’s the problem with modern medicine today. We’re, it’s very good at bandaging things. You have a, this disease here, you have this symptom, okay. Here’s a medication to take care of that symptom. Well maybe why do I have that symptom?
Jennifer Myers Chua: Something else that you’ve really revolutionized really, is both toothpaste and anti per sprint. And I know you’ve won some awards and you’ve gotten a lot of Canadian press about your antiperspirant, your toothpaste, but why did you choose antiperspirant and toothpaste and what makes yours so revolutionary?
Alain Ménard : They don’t need preservatives, the water activity meaning the amount of water it’s available for microorganisms to grow in that type of product is very low. and there’s humectants in there. So they basically, they take the water and they don’t give it away. Nowadays we have all kinds of natural preservatives that we can use it. You can eat. Back then it was. It was tough finding them, it was a big challenge.
I also, at the same time toothpaste, we though well, you know what? Maybe people will get it more cause it putting it in their mouth. Most people now know that your skin can absorb stuff, yeah. Probably still some awareness to be done there, but back then, no people didn’t even think about it. So I said, well, okay. And the deodorant, well, I always had a big hunch and it’s been proven now, it’s the aluminum in those antiperspirants. for years the companies always said, oh no, It’s a, it’s safe. It doesn’t cross your skin. They always said it. They said it just gets in your sweat pores and creates a plug in. Eventually it plug falls out when it plugs, it plugs your sweat pores while sweat can come out of it. And people have to understand, it’s not just like aluminum, pure aluminum that they dig up from the earth. No, no. It’s chemically treated aluminum. Aluminum chlorohydrate. Aluminum zirconium. It’s not as if like those exist in nature. No, it’s manmade, partly what it partly natural element.
I laughed yesterday. I saw a company come up with a, an antiperspirant, but aluminum, but they said, Yeah but it’s made with recycled aluminum. It’s like, Okay. But what about the people’s health that doesn’t, that doesn’t change anything, and studies have shown that that’s a, those chemically treated aluminums were potential endocrine disruptor or cancer causing if you want. And studies have shown that there were, they did find some of this aluminum in the breast tissue that was metastasized cancer or tumor. And it’s like, Okay. there is a smoking gun, but the industry still said, no, no, it’s impossible. It must be coming from somewhere else because you can’t get true. Further studies had been done by using isotope and they added an isotope to the aluminum, so they could actually trace it. Yeah. They take a blood sample, they find the aluminum they’ll know it’s the aluminum that actually came from there. So first study showed that the, yes, the, it does cross the skin. It’s pretty complex a study to do. It sounds simple, but it’s not. And then the, even that tested on people that have just shaved. They call it damaged skin. If you apply it right after a damaged skin, you get six fold, more absorption of aluminum from the aluminum stick.
And people maybe don’t know this too, but a typical antiperspirant contains anywhere between 15 up to a 25% pure refined aluminum adds a lot. That’s a lot. So when those studies came out and now you’re seeing it on shelves in Canada now, the companies were a little bit scared because they’d been going on saying it’s safe. It doesn’t get through your skin. So the first thing they did or the FDA forced them to do it is add a new warning to there, to the antiperspirant, stick to the label. And it’s in the back of the label. I would encourage people to read it and Canada’s not mandatory, in the states it is, but most companies in Canada will actually add the warning. Cause most of them are American companies anyhow. And they don’t want to get sued. So it says if, if you have kidney disease to ask you your doctor before using this product, why renal disease can they disease? Because this aluminum is getting to your skin and getting into your body, it is circulating everywhere, and if you have renal disease, you need your kidneys to get rid of the aluminum. It gets filtered out of your blood so that you can get it out of your body.
But people with kidney disease, they can’t get rid of the aluminum fast. They can get a toxic level of aluminum and have serious damage. And, studies have shown you take care of the aluminum and antiperspirants you’ll think about the breast cancer. You’ll think about the Alzheimer’s. Cause there was a study shown that, they scan the people’s brain that had Alzheimer’s versus people who didn’t have that same age group. And there was a significant difference of of aluminum in people with Alzheimer’s brain. So it does cross the blood-brain barrier. Right. So how long will this be allowed to continue? I hope not for long. And they started adding those types of warning. It’s like an admission, right? So it’s just a question of time. I think the smoking gun is there for the breast cancer link. It’s just a question of time.
Jennifer Myers Chua: Natural deodorants have had a bad rap that they don’t work. What did you do? What is the difference with yours? Why does yours work?
Alain Ménard : There’s deodorants and then there’s antiperspirants right. So we’ve had deodorants for all for 19 years, right? And we introduced them to aluminum free, antiperspirant a couple of years ago. And I’ll come back to that one. But first we, we looked at the smell. Why people wear deodorant? Is for the smell. Deodorant will not stop you from sweating. Only aluminum based antiperspirant could do that because the aluminum goes into the plug, the sweat pores, and creates this metal plug.
And we thought, wow. Okay. Cause when you look at the composition of sweat, now people say I’m sweating. I stink. Yeah. But the sweat doesn’t smell. It’s almost odorless. Of course it’s mostly water, but you do have some stuff coming out, depending on what you ate, whatever, but what causes this smell? Actually, your arm it’s armpits are full of bacteria, molds and yeast.
It’s quite disgusting actually. And then, so what happens is that when you sweat, you’re feeding them, that’s their food. They love moist areas. So then when they get that moisture and they get some nutrients, they start multiplying. And when they multiply, they create byproducts and that’s what smells. There’s some very specific bacteria. One of them is called CNO bacteria, something, I forgot the name, but it’s actually using to make cheese in one of those stinky cheese. So next time you smell it, thinky cheese you’ll see it smells a little bit like armpits. I, sorry, I don’t want to ruin, everybody said love for cheese there, but just by the way.
We focus mostly on the antibacterial part of the deodorant because we knew if we could put in there enough antibacterial agents, natural, of course, the less bacteria you have or microorganism the, less byproducts you’re going to produce when you’re feeding it water. Basically that’s the whole concept. So we really focused very hard on that and that was my specialty. So it was just a given, it was Okay. Let me play with some antibacterial stuff.
I think it’s important to sweat personally. I do. I think get some people say, oh, well you get, that’s how you get rid of a lot of toxins. No, you get rid of a little bit of toxins. Yes. But the majority of your toxins, you get rid of it through your urine and feces. It’s a natural thing to do and maybe there’s other things we don’t understand, but there are times when you don’t want to sweat. I don’t know you’re at a wedding, big presentation, whatever, so that’s why people, a lot people would still continue using antiperspirant.
The deodorants had a bad rap, so quite a long time, most of them weren’t that good. To be honest with you. The old, old deodorants it’s all they used to be is this heavily perfumed so that when you put it, hopefully that perfume would be stronger than your own perfume, and then, the antibacterial people started working with more antibacterial active ingredients that greatly improved the efficacy, but then people are still sweating though. That’s the thing. So I thought about it. Well, if we could make something to replace the aluminum, but that was safe. I didn’t want to have something so small that it could get into a sweat pore. So I thought, well, what if we did like a surface block, temporary surface block for those people don’t want to sweat. So that’s when we thought of wax wax actually the idea came, we were working on the sunscreen and we use wax as a, for the natural waterproofing, right. Instead of using a silicone, that’s another bad one. That’s just triclosan, its gonna come out it’s just a question a time. We do the first test. We just do it qualitative. So you put it on your back of your hand and then I call it the faucet test. You put your hand underneath the water. If you see you look at, see if the water pearls and they do big pearls or small pearls. It gives you an indication that it’s going to work. We’re allowed to see sweat resistant on our sunscreen. So I thought Okay. It’s water resistant, but it’s also sweat resistant. So we started working with the wax, but it wasn’t working. Your skin is not smooth. It’s like in grand canyon, like full of crevices. So I used part of waxes esters. The definition of Esther means part of, so you have all these long fatty acid chains there, so you just cut and use a little piece of the wax. So they can get down into grand canyon. So it does like a film, it’s a surface film. It doesn’t get into your pores. It’s too big.
So finally we did a study head-to-head. Versus the conventional brands with aluminum. It was done in a specialized lab on people. So we actually tested it to see if it prevented the sweating. And we showed that it was just as effective. Finally, we have something just as effective for the sweating. We had something for this smell, but now we have something for the sweating and the smell, obviously. So yeah, that was a big accomplishment. That was one of our biggest one. Honestly, there it’s a, it’s a big one.
We’ve been making toothpaste for 19 years, so we weren’t allowed to say the anti-cavity on the toothpaste because it didn’t contain fluoride. I was a regulation. We figured out something, we put together, all the literature, the research, and sent it to health Canada. They finally agreed that the research that we showed that yes, 20% xylitol in a toothpaste is as effective as fluoride. It is anti-cavity, which is a big thing, especially for children’s toothpaste, because now you finally have anti-cavity children’s toothpaste that is safe to swallow. And I say that because any toothpaste on the market clearly says on the packaging or the box or the tube, whatever caution, for children of six years of age or less only put the size of a pea size amount of toothpaste and make sure they don’t swallow it. And if they do contact your poison control center, wow. What does that. What does that tell you about fluoride? Flouride is great. It’s great for Anticavity, prevent cavity for tooth enamel and things like that. But if you start ingesting it and you start getting too much, it can end up with fluorosis.
This is not proven yet, but the study by a group of Harvard researchers showed that cities that had fluoride in a water they had a higher incidence of bone cancer and cities that didn’t have fluoride in our water. So they think there’s a link they’re not proven yet, but.
Jennifer Myers Chua: You’ve been advocating for Canadians for our health, with the government with health Canada for all of these years, but you’re also committed to education and raising awareness. And you do a lot of that as well, which I love about the potential dangers of chemicals, but I was wondering how you were interacting with local producers and the natural world. Could you talk a little bit about what green beaver is doing in terms of climate initiatives or in terms of supporting local producers?
Alain Ménard : That’s part of sustainability. Some people will look at it as local economy. It’s more than that. Sustainability. For example, sunflower seed oil. Yeah. I could buy it cheaper and Ukraine, but you know what to bring all those barrels from Ukraine to here, that creates a lot of pollution. You got to try to minimize, you know, all the transport. All those boats very diesel and soforth. It’s more, more of a sustainability thing. We support organic farmers obviously, and every time you buy organic food, you’re providing a business for an organic farmer . So let’s say he has a hundred acres. Well, that’s a hundred acres that no pesticide is being spread on. That’s at a hundred acres that actually bees can actually breed and not being killed by pesticides, that’s a hundred acres that the earth is healthy. They showed it, the, the pesticide was all question of a yield, right? How much are you going to get per acre? There’s a study was done in Pennsylvania. It’s like a Amish. They don’t use pesticides and they get more bushels of corn per acre than the big producers with their pesticides and their synthetic fertilizer. Why is because the earth is healthy, there’s all kinds of microorganisms in there creating their own natural fertilizer. So every time you buy organic, you got to think that, you know what, you’re helping out. You’re helping to reduce the amount of pesticides and chemicals that’s being spread in our land. That’s leaching in our rivers contaminating, not just the earth, the water, but also the animals that live in it feed off. And who else feeds off it, not just the animals.
Jennifer Myers Chua: When you think about the children, or when you think about the Canadians of the future or the people of the future, are you hopeful?
Alain Ménard : very hopeful? optimistic, feel great about it. It feels like I didn’t just spend the last 20 years just I dunno singing out in the middle of nowhere. Nobody heard nothing. It’s happening. It’s actually happening. It took a long time. I’m telling you the first 10 years, I still, it was so slow. People weren’t getting it. But now if I looked at the last five years, oh my God, it’s unbelievable. I mean, I didn’t grow up with, we weren’t recycling in those days. Right. But then I look at the, my son. For him it’s recycling is, yeah. That’s what you do. You don’t even think about it. Eating organic for him. He’s like, yeah, of course. That’s what you do. You don’t need chemicals or that’s, this doesn’t make sense. I think that next generation, because again, I think about, the millenial parents. Compared to parents 20 years ago. My research is qualitative. But I’ve talked to many parents. It’s night and day. So their children that will be just for them, that will become the norm. So I come back to the story when I clued in that people accepted artificial flavors as the norm. Well, now they’re going to be accepting, like, of course you eat natural, real food. That’s the norm. No more of these artificial flavors. I’m just using that as an example, but yeah, very optimistic. It’s like a, wow. I, it’s so great. It’s a great feeling that, people are finally waking up. Again, like I said earlier, I think the global warming accelerated the awareness and the acceptance, although right now, if you look at everything that’s going on in the world with the impact of global warming and the pollution and things like that, I think in 20 years from now, we’re going to be in a better position than what we are today. The air is going to be cleaner and 20 years from now than it is today. I’m sure of it it’s going to happen. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes that’s what people need. They need a little bit of a shock, to believe, to change their ways. And I think we’ve got that shock. We want to change and we don’t want to feel that again. And now for our future generations, no, can leave that to them
Jennifer Myers Chua: if you want to learn more about Alain and his certified organic and cruelty-free personal care products. Visit greenbeaver.com. Looking to try the revolutionary antiperspirant or toothpaste that uses the benefit of science. You can find both in retailers, across Canada. You can follow along with Alain on his mission to inspire a natural way of life in a more sustainable world. On Facebook at thegreenbeaver or Instagram at the_green _beaver.